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How to Find the Right Physical Therapy School Near Oneonta Alabama

Oneonta Alabama physical therapist working with female patient using exercise ballEarning a physical therapist degree near Oneonta AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to illness or injury regain mobility and function. But before they can practice and work with the rehabilitation of patients, they must receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must also become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited school. So prior to choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make sure they will supply a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is choose a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your home or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that must be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll address what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Oneonta Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in varying settings, including Oneonta AL private practices, hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for diagnosing and rehabilitating patients. As previously stated, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and frequently pain caused by illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they design a program of treatment to address the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also endeavor to stop any advancement of the disability. Although the causes of disability requiring physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Head injuries
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Oneonta AL medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degree Options

Oneonta Alabama physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are three physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Below are short descriptions of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the Oneonta AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are usually offered by junior or community colleges, and require two years to complete. An internship or other form of clinical training is usually a component of the course of study.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapy training to ready students to move up to the doctoral level. While they are not a requirement to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an integral initial step to practicing as a PT. Similar to the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and commonly incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are required if you want to become a licensed practicing physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to complete, making the total investment of time 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical training is an important component in addition to the considerable classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the completion of an internship is mandated, not just for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has taken the place of the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been phased out and is no longer offered in the United States. Some practicing physical therapists holding a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing mandate for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Programs

Oneonta Alabama woman taking physical therapist courses onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy programs offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This requires that the student live near the college campus or nearby a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the curriculum may be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's Oneonta AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more economical. Tuition may be significantly lower than comparable on campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the ideal choice for those students that are disciplined enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapist Programs

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding some of your initial queries, such as the type of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But since there are so many PT schools within the Oneonta AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll need to research additional qualifications as well in order to further reduce your list of college options. Furthermore, you need to make certain that you enroll in the school that is best for you. That's the reason we have put together a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. Ask all of the potential schools these questions prior to making a final selection.

Is the Physical Therapy College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are considering have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As earlier mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctoral degree the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online program, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist program and school you select are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial aid.

What is the Program's Ranking? Along with accreditation, it's imperative that the school and program you pick have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are several ways you can investigate a PT college's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Contact some Oneonta AL physical therapy clinics or other health care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your school selections. It might also be a good idea to contact the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been filed against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about all of the physical therapist colleges you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may indicate that students dropped out due to dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being placed in jobs with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Oneonta AL area? If a school has a high job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the medical care field is good or even outstanding. It also affirms that the college has a large network of contacts to help students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the Program Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's important that the school you choose provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that supports the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. In each state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapy school. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PT and PTA graduates, a number of states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on supplemental tests.

Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the physical therapy programs you are evaluating have associations with Oneonta AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a requirement for most PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Oneonta health care community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapy program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the physical therapist college they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Oneonta AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? The majority of DPT colleges offer some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Inquire if the colleges you are considering have a financial assistance office and see what type of help is offered. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you may qualify for. A number of physical therapist schools offer scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a program because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the physical therapy college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Oneonta AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Oneonta Online Physical Therapist Colleges

Choose the Right Oneonta Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapist program is a necessary first decision you have to make to start a rewarding career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have excellent reputations and be accredited. However there are other relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your college of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that many variables will guide you to your ultimate decision. You may decide to go to each of the schools to view their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this school help me realize my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will be able to narrow down the field so you can make the right choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream to become a licensed physical therapist in Oneonta Alabama.


 

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